Sunday, May 20, 2007

Detachment, anyone?

Everyone knows that addiction to drugs or alcohol affects not only the addict but also the people in their lives. It strains, stresses and often breaks relationships with those who care for and love them deeply.

Spouses and other family members often find themselves in the midst of chaos, as if a storm were swirling around them. New problems surface, old issues read their ugly heads once again, and everyone assumes their places for act 3 (or 4, 5, or 6) of “Here We Go Again.”

But it’s so tiring to re-live the same scenes, over and over again. Alanon and other 12-step recovery programs teach that changing the patterns of a relationship starts by changing ourselves. Usually we are required to step back from the situation, untangle our emotions and take care of ourselves.

That may not be easy to do, and since change doesn’t happen overnight, it can start with small steps.

In her book Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People, Elizabeth B. Brown writes:

Detachment is releasing someone to be responsible for himself and to bear the responsibility of his own actions. Detachment gives us the objectivity necessary to look at our situation and glean from it the possible good, the lesson that can make the next steps in our walk more steady and focused, and move us toward our goal. Detachment is ceasing to worry and changing our focus, perhaps heroically, from the other person to what is good for us in our life.

Some days, I feel my efforts to detach have been fairly successful. Other days, I'm not so sure.

I wonder how other people have done it. How have you detached from your situation with the addict you care about? What helped? Was it something someone said, something you read, or something else?

Share it here. I would love to know how you’ve done it and how you are doing.


Luanne said...

Alene, as your sister and someone who loves you and loves the addict, I have said you needed to detach. Easier to say than to do. I thank God I have never been in your shoes because I don't know if,as a mother, I could "detach" even though it needs to be done. Does your heart have to be ripped apart more than it has been in the past? How can you detach and physically move closer to the addict? I pray with God's help you are strong enough

Alene said...

The pain of knowing that one's child, even as an adult, is slowly killing himself with drugs is the same--no matter what the distance. Should I allow the actions of the addict in my family to dictate my future? To keep me away from the grandchildren I want to spend time with and know better? I don't think so. In the past, when he was still a teenage, I detached enough to assist the police in finding him and when he chose to continue using, I put him out of the house. Yes, I can detach. It doesn't mean you don't feel sadness, but you can move ahead with your life in a semblance of peace and serenity.

Sean Archer said...
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